Maybe I'll always be a tree hugger at heart, but I just cannot fathom the justification of hundreds and thousands of regal trees that shade the baking streets of Accra, being cut down, sawed, hacked and felled. Murdered.
This practice has been going on, intermittently since I arrived in Ghana in 1997. That year, the boulevard called Ring road, which was lined on either side by huge wonderful shade-giving trees, was gutted. Where careful planning and planting years earlier had created a tranquil majestic view from Danquah circle all the way up to Sankara - the overhanging branches, reaching from one side of the road to the other, suddenly looked barren, bright, harsh. The trees were being hacked to the ground. At the time some concerned groups wrapped huge purple ribbons around the trees in their defense and I believe the exercise was halted. Far too late though... Today a few trees remain, but they are all pared back, quivering on the edge of life...
Across from my office yesterday I found a typical crew of young fit guys, sent by the mysterious tree killing body, doing what they do best. Hacking innocent trees to death.
All my dramatics aside, it is heartbreaking to see. I suppose the reason is related to the recent housing development boom in the city - but I have to ask, who would prefer a barren wasteland as their view from a newly built house, to the soothing sway of an old tree?
Perhaps some of the other Ghana bloggers know more about why it's happening and what the justification is. I've heard that the Accra Metropolitian Authority (AMA) could be involved. These are the same people who have the curbs of the main streets, leading from the airport, painted a chalky white, every time a dignitary visits. Window dressing for the city... But killing trees? That definitely does not have an aesthetic advantage.
Last year at the 'Togo Embassy circle' near my house, a massive cluster of old trees, which amounted to a public park, were hacked to the ground. There was a protest with media coverage etc. It amounted to nothing. In place of the trees there is now one small statue, covered still with an old cardboard box, awaiting it's ribbon cutting ceremony... this is apparently development. This is apparently a tribute to the great ones... this is criminal!!!
Maybe it's just me... but I don't think there will ever be a day I can accept and condone it. They say when in Rome... but then this is not Rome and somehow I don't think the saying applies to the destruction of our environment...